Berlusconi re-emerges with vow to axe house tax

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has returned to the political frontline after months in the shadows, vowing to abolish a key tax on homes in remarks likely to stoke investors’ jitters about Italy’s future after an election next spring.

But the 75-year-old media magnate is keeping Italy guessing about whether he will stand for prime minister at the head of his centre- right People of Freedom (PDL) party in the election.

Berlusconi, one of the country’s richest men, attacked the policies of his successor, unelected technocrat Mario Monti, in his first interview to Italian media since being forced from power last November, when Italy tottered on the edge of a Greek-style debt crisis.

Berlusconi said in the interview with his family’s il Giornale daily that the PDL would abolish a deeply unpopular tax on homes worth €20bn a year, which is a major plank in Monti’s tough austerity programme to cut Italy’s huge debt.

The former European Commissioner has restored Italy’s credentials since he took over from the scandal- plagued Berlusconi at a time when a loss of confidence pushed Italy’s borrowing costs to untenable levels.

Berlusconi, who has remained out of the limelight for months, said the tax on the owner of every house in Italy must be repealed in the same way his government abolished a previous levy in 2008. Avoiding property taxes has been a constant theme for Berlusconi who dominated Italian politics for 17 years until his fall last November.

Berlusconi said he wanted to see which electoral law would be used before deciding whether to stand in a poll which must be held by next April.

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